Fish-hook fears in zone change

Changing the zoning for the Marlborough Ridge development, near Blenheim, could have fish-hooks for residents, a councillor representing the area fears.

The Marlborough District Council has proposed abandoning the separate zone for Marlborough Ridge and integrating it into the council's planning rules for the rest of the district.

The council's regional development and planning committee meeting yesterday gave staff the go-ahead to prepare the plan change.

However, councillor Peter Jerram said he was concerned there could be fish-hooks in the change for residents who lived there.

He asked about implications for existing residents and what feedback there had been.

Council planning officer Mark Caldwell said it was very early days and the council had not talked with residents yet. This would follow after councillors approved the work.

"We need to undertake consultation. There may be some issues that arise through that."

There were some issues with the current zoning, he said.

For example some people needed a resource consent to build houses on their sections because the sections were on land originally intended to be a "village green" recreation area.

Any house plans had to be signed off by a "Ridge committee" which could approve house plans that didn't fit the rules in that zoning, Mr Caldwell said.

Committee chairman Trevor Hook said the committee was approving the investigation to look at a plan change, not approving the change itself.

The Marlborough Ridge development was first proposed in 1995, by Australian property developer Colin Lofts.

The $25 million project was to include a hotel, about 100 residential sections, a conference centre and an 18-hole golf course. However, the 1997 Asian financial crisis left the hotel project without backing and it went into liquidation.

In a report to yesterday's committee meeting, staff said: "The zone is reaching its maximum development potential and it is highly unlikely the activities which are provided for in the zone provisions but not yet built will be realised because of a lack of market demand and available space.

"Given the failure of the zone to achieve its desired outcomes and in particular the provision of hotel development, and the somewhat confusing provisions, it is proposed to amend the [Wairau Awatere Resource Management Plan] to enable better administration and to retain the integrity of the plan, with minor amendments."

The Marlborough Express